PAC chief denies scandal cover up, says MPs were no-shows
KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid has denied any attempt to cover up high-profile government scandals despite the lack of any parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meetings for three months, saying today that some members did not show up for the last meeting.
"We were all busy and focusing on elections. The last time I called for a meeting we had no quorum," the panel chief told reporters but refused to say which of the 13 members were absent from the meeting held in the middle of April.
The Padang Besar MP also denied "higher-ups" giving any orders for the panel not to proceed with probing four controversial cases already agreed as part of PAC's agenda as "they don't even know (about our work)."
"The PAC is non-partisan and we make decisions based on what is right and wrong," Azmi (picture) said when asked about Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) allegation that he was told not to hold meetings as they could "have a negative impact on Barisan Nasional’s (BN) chances of retaining power."
The cases are the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) in which former Cabinet minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and her family are accused of abusing a RM250 million federal loan, Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli’s confidential out-of-court settlement with Danaharta over his RM589 million debt, 1 Malaysia Development Bhd’s RM3.5 billion Petrosaudi investment and the cost of KLIA2 surging by RM2.2 billion to RM3.9 billion.
Azmi added that he has already directed the PAC secretary to organise a housekeeping meeting next week but could not guarantee that the four cases would be on the agenda.
"There are so many things not done. Let the committee decide," he said.
But in an immediate response, DAP publicity chief Tony Pua told The Malaysian Insider the quorum of five members was not reached because "the notice given was only one-day and it was a housekeeping meeting and no government agency was called" despite the panel already agreeing on its agenda.
"It was an excuse to waste time," he said.
PR members of the PAC had earlier said the committee's failure to meet for three months suggests a bid to cover up financial scandals involving the incumbent federal government.
They told a press conference here that despite the parliamentary committee resolving on March 5, 2012 to prioritise four top issues involving government expenditure worth close to RM9 billion including the NFCorp scandal, no meetings have been called since the end of March.
“This clearly shows that there is a cover-up order from the very top. The PAC chief has been told not to hold meetings as they could have a negative impact on Barisan Nasional’s (BN) chances of retaining power,” Petaling Jaya Utara MP Pua told reporters.
The PAC had on March 21 also decided to carry on with the NFC probe despite Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia’s orders that it cannot touch on criminal charges against Shahrizat’s husband and NFCorp chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail.
The order came just a day after the Wanita Umno chief’s family, who own NFCorp, refused to face the committee.
Dewan Rakyat had also rejected questions from four DAP lawmakers in March concerning the Tajudin-Danaharta settlement which politicians from across the divide said was a matter of public interest, saying it could not discuss issues being deliberated in court.
The four MPs had all asked Putrajaya to reveal details of the settlement and how it benefits the public as the former Malaysia Airlines chairman had already been ordered by the High Court to pay the RM589 million he owed Danaharta, which was set up to take over bad debts during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.